5 unexpected benefits of going zero waste

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When it comes to the bigger picture, the overarching benefits of going zero waste may take a little while to reveal themselves – a reduction in waste being sent to landfill and the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans – but you’ll experience your own smaller, more tangible upsides much quicker.  

Some of these benefits may be somewhat obvious (an improvement in your health by switching from a diet of processed, packaged foods to one of wholefoods, for example), whereas others may be somewhat of a surprise. 

Here are the top five unexpected benefits I’ve experienced since adopting a zero waste lifestyle.

No more questionable chemicals 

When my son was about six-months-old I began researching the ingredients of certain baby bath products, many of which I discovered are petroleum-derived – not great for babies or the environment. 

This led me to learn about the health risks certain plastic products pose due to the chemicals they contain, as well as learning about the world’s plastic pollution crisis writ large.

This is essentially what led me down the path to living zero waste, and now that I’m armed with the knowledge (and the Chemical Maze app) that many beauty and cleaning products can cause both short- and long-term health issues, including respiratory problems, metabolic issues and chronic illnesses, I go out of my way to avoid them.

I only use a simple organic soap on my son, and all of the products my husband and I use ourselves are natural and free from questionable ingredients.

Likewise, our household cleaning “products” are simply a combination of vinegar, baking soda and castile soap.

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A sense of community

The way I shop for food has dramatically shifted since going zero waste. Previously, the whole experience was rather soulless and involved either ordering my family’s weekly groceries online, or zipping through an artificially lit supermarket as quickly as possible. 

Now, I head to our local market each week with my son in tow, and visit individual stores for our bread, cheese, coffee, bulk foods and fresh produce.

All of the store owners or staff know my son and I by name, and we often stop to chat about what we’ve been up to over the past week, what produce is in season, and even share recipes and zero waste tips. 

There’s a real sense of community from shopping in this manner which makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. 

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Cha-ching… cash savings

While initially there may be an upfront outlay to going zero waste (purchasing a few reusable products like a KeepCup, water bottle and cloth bags, and setting up a composting system, whether a worm farm or compost bin) – living zero waste has its cost-savings.

By swapping harsh chemical cleaners for homemade ones, simplifying your beauty routine in a bid to avoid plastic packaging, and making many food items from scratch you’ll be saving plenty of cash.

There are also savings to be had from avoiding buying single-use items and using reusables instead, and simply eschewing the mindlessly consuming we’re all brainwashed into believing will lead to enduring happiness. 

Upping my foodie game

In my pre-zero waste days I basically loathed cooking and the idea of making anything from scratch, whether mayo, sauerkraut or crackers, when you could just as easily buy them in a store, seemed simply ludicrous. 

In a bid to avoid plastic though upping your game in the kitchen is pretty much mandatory, and as a result I’ve learnt to bake, make and prepare all manner of culinary feats since going zero waste. 

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Becoming more resourceful

One of the casualties of modern life has been a loss of basic life skills. Why mend something when you can simply buy a replacement, right? Why make something yourself when you can just slap down your hard-earned and purchase it from a store? Or so the rationale goes…

Living zero waste though inspires you to learn and develop skills such as mending, baking, canning, preserving, composting, gardening and growing your own veggies… Which will undoubtedly be very helpful when the zombie apocalypse arrives and we all have to be self-sufficient!